Monday, January 16, 2017

Penfolds Koonunga Hill South Australia Shiraz Cabernet, 2008

If you are trying to get a handle on the difference between Australian Shiraz and French Syrah, "generosity" is a key word. Australian Shiraz is often generous (sometimes to a fault) while Northern Rhone Syrah wines, like the one produced by Cave de Tain (below), have more structure (sometimes too much). When Australian winemakers blend Shiraz and Cabernet, as in this wine, they count on Shiraz to provide the generous mid-palate while Cabernet Sauvignon provides the structure. The result can be an enjoyable wine either for casual drinking or to accompany meals.

Very dark and deep. Blue plums, berries, dark chocolate. Has the classic Shiraz/Cab smells and flavors. Hard to isolate either grape, but they complement each other nicely. At eight years of age, this wine has developed a pleasing level of mature complexity, but I would feel comfortable holding it for another year or two.

Koonunga Hill is a Penfolds classic, first produced in 1976. It was inexpensive then and still is, selling for about $8 to $10 at World Market. I prefer the Shiraz/Cabernet rather than the Cabernet/Shiraz because it has the qualities I remember from that initial vintage, but both are good. If you can't afford Penfolds Bin 389 (I saw a price tag of $70/bottle recently), this is the poor man's choice. 

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